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Who saw so keenly and so well could paint
The village-folk, with all their humors quaint,—
The parson ambling on his wall-eyed roan,
Grave and erect, with white hair backward blown;
The tough old boatman, half amphibious grown;
The muttering witch-wife of the gossip's tale,
And the loud straggler levying his blackmail,—
Old customs, habits, superstitions, fears,
All that lies buried under fifty years.
To thee, as is most fit, I bring my lay,
And, grateful, own the debt I cannot pay.
Over the wooded northern ridge,
Between its houses brown,
To the dark tunnel of the bridge
The street comes straggling down.
You catch a glimpse, through birch and pine,
Of gable, roof, and porch,
The tavern with its swinging sign,
The sharp horn of the church.
The river's steel-blue crescent curves
To meet, in ebb and flow,
The single broken wharf that serves
For sloop and gundelow.
With salt sea-scents along its shores
The heavy hay-boats crawl,
The long antennae of their oars
In lazy rise and fall.
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